Vol. 17 No. 21 - March 8, 2017


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryAMI history comes to life at Heritage Day

ANNA MARIA — People were invited to take a step back in time March 4 during the Anna Maria Island Historical Society's Heritage Day celebration.

Attendees flocked to the Anna Maria Island Historical Museum to learn how things were done decades ago from local craftsmen specializing in everything from spinning and weaving wool to gathering honey from bees.

During the day of festivities, musicians took to the stage to play folk tunes outside of the museum while volunteers sold settler's bread, baked goods and antiques. More...

Visit Florida under scrutiny as session begins

A proposal to rein in the state's tourism agency may be heard separately from a plan to eliminate its parent agency as the Florida Legislative session opens this week.

The House of Representatives has announced plans to separate Visit Florida (the Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corp.) from HB 7005, which would dismantle the corporation's supervisory agency, Enterprise Florida, the driver of the state's economic development program. Predicting the demise of Enterprise Florida, the new HB 9 would place Visit Florida under the direction of the state's Department of Economic Opportunity. More...

Holmes Beach commissioners say 'no' to Bert Harris

HOLMES BEACH — Commissioners unanimously voted to respond to four Bert Harris claims Feb. 28 with letters refusing to change the city's ordinances.

The response letters follow several others all containing the same message – Holmes Beach isn't backing down from its ordinances, including the vacation rental ordinance and one governing occupancy in rental properties. The city also didn't present a settlement offer.

Each of the four claims cites issues with the city's occupancy rule of two people per bedroom or six per unit, whichever is larger.

Attorney Aaron Thomas submitted a claim for 205 N. Harbor Drive on behalf of the owner, Manatee AMI, LLC. The claim requests the right for the owner to continue leasing the three bedroom property to groups of eight or receive $195,000 in compensation for lost property value. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story Residents protest Holmes Beach boat canopies

HOLMES BEACH — City commissioners allowed two boat canopies to be installed at a public boat ramp and some residents aren't happy about it.

Property owners at Westbay Point & Moorings condominiums returned to city hall March 2 during a work session to ask commissioners to remove the canopies covering the Holmes Beach Police Department and West Manatee Fire Rescue boats, stored on private lifts at the public boat ramp on 63rd Street. Commissioners agreed to obtain a survey to determine if the canopies were rightfully installed.

One of the condominium complex's buildings overlooks the city property to the waterway, a view that is now partially impacted by the boat lift canopies. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryPickleball court funded

BRADENTON BEACH – The increasingly popular sport of pickleball that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong will soon be played at Lou Barola South Park.

The city already has a pickleball court on the north end of town at the Herb Dolan Bayfront North parks on 26th Street North.

During the Wednesday, March 1, Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) meeting, members voted 6-1 in favor of spending up to $15,000 in CRA funds to build a stand-alone, concrete pickleball court in the small neighborhood park located at the corner of Highland Ave. and Fourth Street North, near the public works and police headquarters. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryArtists prepare to open Tour of Homes boutique

ANNA MARIA — Preparations are nearly complete for The Center of Anna Maria Island's annual Tour of Homes, including those for the Tropical Treasures Boutique.

"It really is like setting up a pop-up store," boutique coordinator Joan Pettigrew said of the experience.

A group of 12 local artisans began gathering weekly in January to work on pieces to sell during the tour. Items include jewelry, home décor, original artwork, bakery items and condiments.

Set up for the boutique begins the Friday prior to the tour with volunteers working to transform the garage of one of the homes on the tour into a lively, colorful shop that will only be open for one day. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryVacation rental units to top AMI Plaza

HOLMES BEACH — Four new vacation rental units may soon be coming to the city, but they won't be located in one of the city's residential districts.

Mike Hynds, owner of AMI Plaza on Holmes Boulevard, is moving forward with his plan to build four one bedroom vacation rental units on top of the plaza. The project will be the first combined residential and commercial use constructed in the city's mixed use overlay district if it receives final approval from commissioners.

During a March 2 work session, commissioners spoke in favor of the project as long as outstanding issues are addressed before the matter comes before them for a vote in April. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryMetz reappointed to P&Z

BRADENTON BEACH – John Metz received praise and criticism before the city commission voted 3-2 to reappoint him to a second three-year term on the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z).

During last Thursday's meeting, Mayor Bill Shearon, Vice Mayor John Chappie and Commissioner Marilyn Maro voted in favor of the reappointment. Chappie supported the reappointment, even though he described a personal action taken by Metz as "despicable."

Commissioners Ralph Cole and Jake Spooner opposed the reappointment because of Metz's past and pending actions. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryEnjoy the freshest local seafood

Gulf Coast living spoils you when it comes to food – mostly because it's never spoiled. The images used in ads for beers or bags of chips, with brightly-colored beach chairs and a cold drink in the sand are marketing people to crave a seemingly idealistic paradise. Well, that's our home. Where beachside beverages with friends is a community staple and fresh-caught seafood is an understatement.

I remember while working at a local seafood restaurant, a rather famous guest arrived off a fishing charter with a filet smuggled in a paper bag. He sheepishly sauntered up to me asking if there was any way we could cook his fish for him. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story Sarasota Bay Watch begins clam restoration

Since its beginning, a decade ago, Sarasota Bay Watch (SBW) has focused much of its efforts on scallop restoration. The organization has already released over 21,000,000 scallop larvae. Newly acquired funds will ensure the continuation of this long term, community-driven restoration effort.

While scallop restoration will remain a priority of the group, SBW is enthusiastically beginning a clam restoration initiative. Like bay scallops, southern hard clams (aka quahogs) were once abundant in our bays and waterways. Due to the same factors that affected scallops – over harvest, water pollution, sewage, dredge and fill and storm water run-off – clams no longer thrive in local waters.

The decision to add clams to the restoration effort springs from their unique and hardy life cycle. These shellfish inhabit the flats along the eastern seaboard from Canada to Florida. They range in size from 1 to 4 inches wide, and vary in color from gray to white. Depending on their size, they are also known as Cherrystone, and Littlenecks. More...

real estate

Manatee County – unmatched housing variety

What's the difference between a $300,000 property and a $5,000,000 property? Aside from $4,700,000, there is the size of the property, the quality of construction and the location. But what does it mean when they're all located on one small island?

In most parts of the country and certainly in the Northeast where I'm from, you don't usually find multi-million dollar properties within a mile or two of $300,000 properties. In fact, it was one of the first things I noticed when I moved to Florida – how much diversity there was in housing within close proximity to each other. This is especially true on Anna Maria Island, where the level of diversity and value is sometimes shocking.

So, let's look at the pricing differential first, accrued from www.realtor.com. At the time of this writing, Cortez, not on the Island but certainly close enough to be considered, has properties for sale starting at $375,000 to $1,850,000; the city of Anna Maria has properties from $325,000 to $5,495,000; and the combined cities of Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach have available listings from $160,000 to $3,995,000. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Reverse mortgages worth another look

Investment Corner

I have written about reverse mortgages over the years, at least twice here in the Sun. My advice was that reverse mortgages were expensive for the borrower, but in the case where a retired person or couple had run out of assets, using the equity in their home through a reverse mortgage wasn’t the worst idea in the world.

I’m bringing the topic back one more time because some changes in federal guidelines have made the reverse mortgage a more attractive option for those who are over age 62, that own their home free and clear of another mortgage and who are concerned about the possibility of running low on retirement income during their lifetime

Space limitations don’t’ allow us to go into a full primer on reverse mortgages, but let’s hit some of the highlights. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StorySignarama lights up the scoreboard

After eight regular seasons games played under the beaming Florida sun, the 2017 youth flag football season quickly approached its end this past Saturday with three age groups showing strength at the top of each division.

The eight- to 10-year-old division closed out with Truly Nolen at the top of the heap. The wealth of talent in this division, the future of the Island youth sports, was evident with the three teams that were hot on the heels of Truly Nolen all season. Bark & Company Realty, Beach to Bay and Salty Printing followed in the ranks by the end of the season, each with five wins.

Team Miller Electric dominated the 11- to 13-year-old age group with seven wins and no losses going into its last regular season game this Saturday. Planet Stone and Progressive Cabinetry come in ranked #2 and #3 with more wins than losses for each team. More...


Balloon release concerns Turtle Watch

BRADENTON BEACH – Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring was notified through an anonymous tip that on Friday, Feb. 10, at sunset, about 50 people walked out of a restaurant and released "dozens of green and yellow balloons over the sea."

Other callers reported to Turtle Watch Director Suzi Fox that the balloons were delivered to the restaurant around 4:30 p.m. that night in a minivan, she said.

Fox said she is asking city officials to remind business owners that they should not allow balloon releases from their business.

Florida Statute 379.233 makes it unlawful to intentionally release 10 or more balloons in 24 hours; violators can incur a $250 fine. The law calls balloons "a danger and nuisance to the environment, particularly to wildlife and marine animals." More...

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